President Obama's unpopular health care law is back in the news again, but not for the reasons its supporters would like. In the coming weeks, the Supreme Court will take a hard look at the law to decide whether it passes constitutional muster. The question at the heart of the legal challenge brought by 26 states, including Nebraska, as well as the National Federation of Independent Business is whether the federal government has the constitutional authority to force every American to buy and maintain health insurance -- the so-called individual mandate.
There are many problems with this law. ObamaCare's tax hikes are a drag on job creation and the employer mandate is certainly a burden on businesses. When honestly accounted, the law is also an unaffordable budget-buster. But the worst offense is the individual mandate's unprecedented intrusion on our individual liberty. These are some of the many reasons I voted against this misguided law and in favor of its full repeal. The profound implications of the mandate find their way into many of my conversations with constituents in the Third District. Your concerns are well founded.
Legal scholars warn if the individual mandate were to stand there virtually would be no limit to what activity the federal government could control. There is no telling whether this new authority would stop at just health care or whether it would be the first in a series of other such government mandates. Make no mistake: if permitted, future governments will exploit this power.
The question of the individual mandate also has a second part: if it is ruled unconstitutional, could the remaining provisions of the law still stand? In theory this should be easy for the Court to answer. ObamaCare's proponents celebrated the individual mandate as the very basis of its viability. So even by their standards, this misguided law cannot endure without it.
Congress demonstrated it did not intend for the individual mandate to be severable when it deliberately rejected legislative language which would make it so. The Administration also has conceded the individual mandate is not severable from the rest of the law. Writing in court documents, Justice Department attorneys state the law's remaining portions would not be able to function "in a manner consistent with the intent of Congress" if the mandate were to be struck down on its own.
To let the remaining provisions of the law stand would be shortsighted and result in additional unintended consequences. To that end, I recently signed a legal brief with 117 of my House colleagues urging the Supreme Court to rule against the mandate's severability and render the entire law invalid. You can view the entire brief at my website http://adriansmith.house.gov.
Nebraskans deserve the freedom to make their own health care decisions without the federal government interfering. Our Constitution provides for a federal government of significant, but defined and limited powers. By ignoring the constitutional limits on federal power, President Obama's health care law tramples on the rights of all Nebraskans. We need to defend the checks and balances our Constitution creates through its divisions of power and protect the people of Nebraska and every other state from this massive federal overreach. The Supreme Court has a unique opportunity to halt the advance of big government and it should take it by striking ObamaCare down in its entirety.
For more information about this issue, the latest developments in Congress, or to sign up for Congressman Smith's e-mail newsletter, please visit http://adriansmith.house.gov